Ecstatic when his parents leave on vacation for a few days, high school senior Joel Goodsen (Tom Cruise) cuts loose with his best friend Miles. After an attempt at securing the services of a prostitute goes slightly awry, Joel hires gorgeous Lana (Rebecca De Mornay) for a night of delight. Stunned by the amount of Lana’s “bill” the next morning, Joel grows frantic after he crashes his father’s Porsche. In an effort to raise lots of money fast, a desperate Joel turns the house into a brothel.
After graduating from high school, art school hopeful Hoops McCann (John Cusack) struggles to complete his application to the Rhode Island School of Design. Resigning himself to a summer of boredom, McCann agrees to go along with his best friend, George Calamari (Joel Murray), on a family trip to Nantucket, Mass. But, after McCann and Calamari meet rocker-in-distress Cassandra (Demi Moore), it suddenly looks like it’s going to be “one crazy summer.”
A victim of his own anger, the Kid (Prince) is a Minneapolis musician on the rise with his band, the Revolution, escaping a tumultuous home life through music. While trying to avoid making the same mistakes as his truculent father (Clarence Williams III), the Kid navigates the club scene and a rocky relationship with a captivating singer, Apollonia (Apollonia Kotero). But another musician, Morris (Morris Day), looks to steal the Kid’s spotlight — and his girl.
In a seaside California town, best friends Mac (Mel Gibson) and Nick (Kurt Russell) are on opposite sides of the law. Mac is a former drug dealer trying to clean up his act, while Nick is a high-profile detective trying to take down a Mexican drug lord named Carlos (Raul Julia). Soon Nick’s loyalties are put to the test when he begins an affair with restaurateur Jo Ann (Michelle Pfeiffer) — a love interest of Mac’s — unwittingly leading his friend into a police-orchestrated trap.
Lovely teen Julie Richman (Deborah Foreman) is steeped in the excessive, pink-clad culture of the San Fernando Valley, complete with her narcissistic boyfriend, Tommy (Michael Bowen). At a party, however, Julie falls for an edgy Hollywood punk named Randy (Nicolas Cage), and the two begin an unlikely romance. Torn between fitting in with her superficial friends and embracing a more non-conformist lifestyle, Julie ultimately has to decide to stay with Tommy or take a risk with Randy.
After assassin Martin Blank (John Cusack) has trouble focusing on his work, resulting in a failed assignment, he returns to his hometown, Grosse Point, Mich., for his 10-year high school reunion. There he meets Debi Newberry (Minnie Driver), an old girlfriend that he stood up for the prom. Martin’s secretary (Joan Cusack) sets up a hit for him while he is in town, but Martin starts to reconsider his life. Meanwhile, he is hounded by an unstable rival hit man, Grocer (Dan Aykroyd).
With the occasion all but overshadowed by her sister’s upcoming wedding, angst-ridden Samantha (Molly Ringwald) faces her 16th birthday with typical adolescent dread. Samantha pines for studly older boy Jake (Michael Schoeffling), but worries that her chastity will be a turnoff for the popular senior. Meanwhile, Samantha must constantly rebuff the affections of nerdy Ted (Anthony Michael Hall), the only boy in the school, unfortunately, who seems to take an interest in her.
Shallow, rich and socially successful Cher (Alicia Silverstone) is at the top of her Beverly Hills high school’s pecking scale. Seeing herself as a matchmaker, Cher first coaxes two teachers into dating each other. Emboldened by her success, she decides to give hopelessly klutzy new student Tai (Brittany Murphy) a makeover. When Tai becomes more popular than she is, Cher realizes that her disapproving ex-stepbrother (Paul Rudd) was right about how misguided she was — and falls for him.
High school wrestler Louden Swain (Matthew Modine) feels he must do something significant in his life shortly after turning 18. Despite vehement advice against it from his father (Ronny Cox) and coach (Charles Hallahan), Swain decides to try to lose over 20 pounds in a very short time in an attempt to take on the defending state champion of a lower weight class. Meanwhile, he falls for the edgy, older Carla (Linda Fiorentino), who provides further distraction for the young wrestler.
Slow-witted Forrest Gump (Tom Hanks) has never thought of himself as disadvantaged, and thanks to his supportive mother (Sally Field), he leads anything but a restricted life. Whether dominating on the gridiron as a college football star, fighting in Vietnam, or captaining a shrimp boat, Forrest inspires people with his childlike optimism. But one person Forrest cares about most may be the most difficult to save — his childhood love, the sweet but troubled Jenny (Robin Wright).